We have 3 months left before our teaching English contract here in China is up and we’ve officially started planning for our next trip!

It’s turning out to be quite the process. We knew that travelling to one of the least touristy regions on the planet would present some difficulties, but it has still surprised us just how much has to go into this trip.

The visas in post-Soviet Central Asia are becoming easier to obtain, but this doesn’t mean they’re easy.

In this region of the world, we need a visa (entrance permit stamped in our passport) for every country we’re visiting except for Kyrgyzstan.

These permits have to be obtained before arriving and often require hotel bookings, train tickets in and out of the country and sometimes even a letter of invitation from a company in the country we hope to visit.

Visa Budget Backpackers
Visas – Easy In Some Countries… Not Easy In Central Asia.

We spend our free time working on the website and planning for our next trip through Mongolia, Russia, Central Asia and possibly Europe.

Our days off have been spent on Skype, calling embassies, waiting on hold, choosing routes, reserving train seats, booking flights and trying to lock down dates. This is definitely not our usual method of travel. We usually enjoy a spontaneous, free travel style but in Central Asia this isn’t always possible!

But, we’re going to do it and we’re extremely excited about it.

We know that all of our efforts beforehand are going to be worth it! The good news for our readers is that once we blaze the trail, we’re going to post all of the information about obtaining visas, trains, and transport throughout the region to make it much easier for other people hoping to do the same trip.

planning trip central asia
The Planning Process

Central Asia is one of the last frontiers of travel, and although it’s not easy to enter, we’ve heard from other travellers that it’s a true mecca of independent travel.

A mixture of cultures spans the Silk Road colliding over one of the most infamous trade routes of all time. There are stunning mosques, towering mountains and huge empty grasslands where people still live a nomadic lifestyle. We can’t wait to mount a horse, grab our trekking poles and join them.

Our goal is to find our way off the beaten path, in this already off the beaten path destination. We want to trek into the wilderness, stay with local families in yurts, and find our own way through this amazingly untouched region.

Along the way, we’re going to write about our experiences and the pros and cons of travel in this part of the world.

Make sure you stick around, it’s sure to be an amazing and extremely interesting journey!

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Travelling to Central Asia: Pressures Of The Planning Process

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Written by

Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift are the owners and founders of Goats On The Road. Together they have been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and have more than 20 years of combined experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship. Their expert advice has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider,  WiseBread and Forbes and they also spoke at the World Tourism Forum in Istanbul about the business of travel blogging.

Learn more about Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift on their respective author archives on this site and on the Goats On The Road About Us Page.

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8 thoughts on “Travelling to Central Asia: Pressures Of The Planning Process

  1. I am only a recent “Goats” friend and am enjoying your updates. Thank You! Planning my first trip to Africa (4 short months only) has taken way more preparation than I expected! I’ve enjoyed your travel tips and what to pack, particularly and wondering if you had thoughts, or would consider a more indepth blog on what “electronics” to take. I know you’ve included what you take in “what to pack”, but should it be a laptop, tablet, 1 or more phones (smart or old style)? In “off the beaten paths” you guys find yourselves, is “connecting” challenging? Headphones – are over the head ok or too gregarious, better with plug-in ear styles? Silly questions, really, am sure, but ones I have spent much time labouring, without really finding answsers; so just a suggestion could be a good blog. Thanks for sharing your adventures. SS

  2. What an amazing journey! Best of luck – and I think you’re right about Central Asia – so much of the rest of the world is slowly but surely going ‘mainstream’.

  3. Thanks for the comment!

    Yep, it seems as though most of the world is westernizing. We’re excited to see Central Asia…I’m sure it’ll have its own flavour and identity!

    Happy Travels.

  4. There’s no such thing as a silly question 🙂

    Up until recently, we’ve travelled with an Acer, travel-sized laptop (10.5″). We don’t have a tablet. The laptop has more storage space and we like typing on a keyboard.

    We use an old style Nokia phone that we bought in India. All it can do is call people and be used as an alarm clock. The rest of the world has Smart Phones, but not us…yet. We just buy local SIM cards for the phone when we arrive in a country…oh, and we only have one phone.

    As for headphones, definitely “ear buds” the over the head ones would be way too bulky.

    Even in off-the-beaten-path places that are “out there” we have been able to connect. There is usually an internet line…even if it is painfully slow. Apart from some really small villages in Africa, we’ve been able to find internet, it’s more available than you may think.

    Thanks for the comment, let us know if you have any more questions! Welcome to Goats On The Road 🙂


  5. Hello,
    Thank you for your site and for taking the time to answer everyone’s questions. I have searched and searched and apologize if you have been asked this question somewhere else – but what do you do for health care coverage? I, too, am from Canada and am thinking long term travel. I saw the one website you posted will do 12 months of coverage… do you just renew every year without having to come back to Canada?

    Thank you!


  6. Hi Angie,

    We’ve always booked through World Nomad’s Insurance. They’re really good at changing the coverage while on the road and have good rates. We’ve booked for a year and then just extended it before (without going back to Canada).

    One thing to note though is that you have to keep your Canadian Healthcare activated. In Alberta, you’re allowed to leave the country for 2 years and it will stay activated.

    If you’re going to be living somewhere rather than just travelling, you should look into expat insurance. We had insurance through our school we worked at while in China, not with World Nomad’s.

    Here’s the link for World Nomad’s. It’s easy to book through here.

    I hope this helps, let us know if you have more Q’s.


  7. Did you have to apply for visa to Iran ahead of time or can you get visa on arrival when crossing the border?

  8. A 15 day visa on arrival is available at the airport (some people are still turned away though!) – note, citizens of Canada, the USA and the UK don’t make the cut! Citizens of 10 countries don’t need a visa at all. The safest route would be to apply ahead of time.

    You can get it in your home country, or while on the road. We got ours in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Prior to going to the embassy, you must have applied for an authorization number and have received a Letter of Invitation. Go through a company in order to obtain these. We used and they got us the necessary number and letter very quickly.

    Once you have the number and letter, you go to the embassy that you stated on your registration form and provide them with those 2 documents, your passport, passport photos and the fee. Within a few hours, or a couple of days depending on where you go, you’ll have your visa.

    There’s some good, detailed info here:


    Good luck, Iran is incredible.

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